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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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New twist over ownership sparks fears for Millom memorial

A ROW sparked after council bosses decided to stop maintaining Millom war memorial has taken a new twist – with the discovery that they never owned it.

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enthusiastic Joan Hobbs

Copeland Borough Council looked into its records to establish the details of land ownership around Millom Cenotaph – which it had maintained for decades – only to find they had no legal responsibility for the land.

Residents had expressed anger after the council announced it could no longer afford to maintain the memorial due to drastic multi-million pound budget cuts imposed by the coalition government.

While the memorial itself is owned by the War Graves Commission, the surrounding land will now pass into the remit of Millom Town Council.

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Councillor Frank McPhillips said: “Our records show it was passed from the Dock family to Millom Rural District Council, which folded in the 1970s.

“Copeland Borough Council looked at its legal documents and found it was never taken on as their responsibility. They are rubbing their hands now because we are lumbered with the responsibility for it.”

Cllr Ray Cole said: “If as a town council we take responsibility for the area around the cenotaph, there could be quite serious implications. We are not getting any younger and I wonder what will happen 10, 20 or 30 years down the line if there aren’t enough new volunteers.

“I’m concerned if any damage is done the financial responsibility will fall on this council.”

Cllr Joan Hobbs, chairwoman of Friends of Millom Park, has established a working group in partnership with the Royal British Legion Millom Branch and Millom Royal Naval Association to maintain the cenotaph.

She said: “The working party are a very enthusiastic bunch and there are a lot of younger members. I don’t see it becoming a financial burden to the town council.”

A spokesman for Copeland Borough Council confirmed its legal department had made enquires and discovered it did not own the land.

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